The English language debut of Chilean director Sebastián Lelio, Disobedience follows hot on the heels of his Oscar winning Fantastic Woman.
Having received news of the death of her father (a powerful orthodox Jewish leader), Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns home to London to an uneasy welcome from (now married) childhood friends Dovid (Allesandro Nivola) and Este (Rachel McAdams), it isn’t long before old feelings resurface and old prejudices are unearthed.
Disobedience is a real eye opener to orthodox Jewish society and it doesn’t hold back in its honest depiction of the religion, the segregated treatment of women (and the expectation they should be nothing more than good wives and mothers) is front and centre here and although not rammed down your throat it’s not difficult to see the message of the film.
Performances are nothing short of superb and Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams have palpable chemistry, the scenes they share sizzle with sexual tension and you will be completely pulled into their story of forbidden love. On supporting duty, we have Alessandro Nivola who almost steals the film from the two leading ladies with his superb performance as the ultra-orthodox Dovid. His dedication to his religion is unwavering but he is clearly unsure how to handle his wife’s feelings and those of the daughter of his mentor (and spiritual father). This inner turmoil is well represented and you’ll never quite be able to fully dislike him (even though a big of part of you will want to), he is a superbly layered character and one that could have so easily been shoehorned into a more overtly villainous role.
Despite the actor’s best efforts though the film doesn’t always click and at times it’s so sombre it becomes hard to watch, whilst there is chemistry between the cast, a little levity wouldn’t have gone amiss. This may be down the drab colour palette (or just simply that North London suburbs aren’t visually exciting), but it’s a shame that a film with performances as good as these feels like it needs an occasional kick to get it back up to speed.
For the most part though it’s a solid drama and has some great moments, although Apostasy is arguably the better (similarly themed) religious drama this year, it would be very surprising if we don’t see some (or all) of the Disobedience cast on multiple nomination lists once awards season hits full swing and you would be remiss not to check them out for yourselves.
Author: Paul, Bath store